Today’s endodontists use state-of-the-art technologies to make root canal procedures as straightforward as fillings. Yet 67% of Americans say that their fear of pain is their biggest concern in getting root canal treatment, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE).
During the tenth annual Root Canal Awareness Week, March 27 through April 2, the AAE hopes to dispel those fears to encourage patients who need a root canal to see an endodontist and save their natural teeth.
“Endodontists, the root canal specialists, devote their practice to root canal treatment and related procedures,” said Dr. Terryl A. Propper, an endodontist in private practice in Nashville, Tenn, and president of the AAE. “We use technologies like microscopes, digital and 3-D imaging, and ultrasonics to diagnose and treat our patients quickly, comfortably, and successfully.”
The AAE notes that endodontists have at least 2 years of additional training beyond dental school and specialize in performing root canals and diagnosing and treating tooth pain. Dentists refer an average of 43% of root canal patients to endodontists, according to the AAE, and 94% of all general dentists have a positive or very positive perception of endodontists and the care they provide.
“Even if your dentist does not recommend a root canal specialist, ask about the benefits of consulting one,” said Propper. “Americans are taking more control of their health care, and that should include oral health. Patients who need root canal treatment should consider seeing an endodontist.”
The AAE also offers advice that dentists can share with their patients in selecting an endodontist. First, the AAE says patients should look for an endodontist who is both convenient and accessible in terms of location and office hours. Patients also should ask these endodontists if they accept their insurance plan or offer other financing. The AAE offers its Find an Endodontist tool to aid in the search.
Next, patients should ask how long these endodontists have been performing root canals and how frequently they perform them. Patients also should ask their dentist specifically why they need a root canal, and then they should find an endodontist who has dealt with similar issues. The AAE says that its members stay up to date on the latest treatments and technologies, and many of them are Board certified, ensuring this expertise. Find an Endodontist can point patients to AAE members.
Finally, patients should ask if the endodontist has the most current equipment, including operating microscopes and rotary instrumentation. The AAE says that endodontists are more likely than general dentists to have the most advanced technologies, but patients should still ask how this gear will help during the procedure.
Dentists and endodontists should collaborate on the treatment plan, and after the root canal, both should monitor the procedure’s success. The AAE offers additional information about root canals for practitioners and patients alike online.